EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- With new attention on Lance Armstrong's admission he used performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career, a Eugene doctor is helping explain just what performance-enhancing drugs do and who uses them.
When talking about performance-enhancing drugs, Dr. DeWayde Perry of the Center for Integrative Health and Performance in Eugene says there are four methods people use most often. Those include blood transfusions or blood doping, injecting a drug called EPO or erythropoietin, injecting testosterone or injecting human growth hormone (HGH).
Dr. Perry says the two most commonly used performance-enhancing drugs are testosterone and HGH. Both drugs stimulate muscle growth, increasing strength and decreasing muscle breakdown.
However, the side effects are numerous. In men, testosterone can decrease the body's ability to produce its own testosterone and decrease the body's ability to produce heart-healthy cholesterol.
It may also lead to a low sperm count, high blood pressure, swelling, breast tissue growth and a shrinking of the testicles. Many of the same effects can be seen in women as well, along with deepening of the voice, male-hair pattern growth and an enlargement of the clitoris. Dr. Perry says there is also a lot of research to suggest the testosterone use can lead to a more aggressive mood.
Dr. Perry says it's important to keep in mind that these drugs are widely accessible by not only professional athletes, but also high school and college athletes.
"I've always been a proponent of staying natural, using foods and perhaps a few over-the-counter supplements that have been proven to assist in recovery and performance,” said Dr. Perry. “But the use of testosterone and other hormones is an area that can be very dangerous, not only dangerous but illegal.”
Using HGH, EPO or testosterone without a prescription is illegal in the U.S. Dr. Perry encourages natural athleticism over performance-enhancing drugs.
“Just do the best you can with what you have and work to improve on that,” said Dr. Perry.
Typically, blood doping and the use of EPO are seen more often at the professional sports level. Both methods are designed to either infuse or create more red blood cells in the body so that more oxygen can flow through a person's blood.
According to the United States Anti-Doping Agency's report, Lance Armstrong was caught using testosterone, EPO and participating in blood doping.
Dr. Perry says there are some signs people may notice in a person who is using performance-enhancing drugs, including a sudden increase in oily skin, sudden muscle growth or a difference in mood, particularly a more aggressive demeanor.